It's hard to take a protest seriously when it consists of 10 protesters. The fact that some of those protesters are dressed in orange jumpsuits intended to evoke Guantanamo doesn't really help, especially considering they're protesting across the street from a Cheesecake Factory. The Cheesecake Factory makes everything seem ridiculous—the people stuffed impatiently into the lobby, the waitstaff in their impractically all-white uniforms, the homeless kids begging for specific types of cheesecake out front. The Cheesecake Factory makes me think of Trouble, the little white Maltese dog that belonged to disgustingly wealthy hotelier Leona Helmsley, who tabloids called "The Queen of Mean." When Helmsley died in 2007, she left Trouble $12 million in a trust, more than she left any of her grandchildren—hell, more than she left to any other human being. She willed her poor chauffeur a hundred thousand dollars, placing his value at exactly 120 times less than Helmsley's dog.
The sight of customers enveloped in the huge booths of the Cheesecake Factory, pawing through their gigantic menus and poking their forks into their enormous entrées—an Over the Top Meatloaf Sandwich, say, washed down with a Twisted Salted Caramel Pretzel shake off the "Spiked Milkshakes" menu—is always hilarious. They look less like humans and more like, say, small hypoallergenic dogs that have had all the life intentionally bred out of them.
Outside, it's a frigid Friday night in downtown Seattle. Very few pedestrians take any notice of the protesters. A few stop to shout angrily ("Impeach Obama!" or "Waterboarding works!"), but only a handful even bother to take a flyer or ask what the protesters are doing. What they're doing is representing activist group The World Can't Wait, shouting at passersby about torture, assassinations, and murders committed by robots on the other side of the planet. They're standing on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Pike Street in front of the Regal Meridian 16 movie theater, ostensibly protesting the movie Zero Dark Thirty, although none of the protesters I talk to have even seen the movie. A couple of them admit that they want to see it, even as they hand out flyers accusing the movie of "represent[ing] the CIA's view of the world," which is to say that it justifies torture and the illegal detentions of innocent human beings.
When I mention to ringleader and spokeswoman Emma Kaplan that this is more like a protest against President Obama, she says she's heading to Washington, DC, with The World Can't Wait next Tuesday to protest the inauguration...